NEW ORLEANS — The Sun Belt Conference revealed its 2023 Preseason All-Sun Belt Teams, individual awards, and Preseason Poll on Monday.
Marshall University made a notable presence on the Preseason All-Sun Belt teams, with six Thundering Herd players receiving this recognition. Ethan Driskell, Logan Osburn, and Jason Henderson earned spots on the First Team, while Rasheen Ali, Owen Porter, and Eli Neal were named to the Second Team.
Coastal Carolina redshirt senior quarterback Grayson McCall clinched the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year title, and Old Dominion junior linebacker Jason Henderson was designated as the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. McCall’s exceptional record includes being named the Sun Belt Player of the Year in 2020, 2021, and 2022, making him the first student-athlete in Sun Belt football history to achieve this three-peat. Meanwhile, Henderson’s standout performance in 2022, leading the country with 186 tackles, secured him the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year title.
Among all Sun Belt programs, South Alabama boasted the highest number of Preseason All-Sun Belt picks with nine, followed closely by in-state rival Troy, reigning Sun Belt champion, and Coastal Carolina, Georgia State, and Marshall, each with six players on the list. All 14 Sun Belt programs were represented with at least one student-athlete on the Preseason All-Sun Belt teams.
Notably, Coastal Carolina and Marshall led the teams with four First Team picks each, while James Madison, Southern Miss, and Troy had three First Team honorees each. South Alabama excelled in producing seven Second Team selections, while Troy and Georgia State followed with five and four, respectively.
The Sun Belt Conference Football Preseason Coaches Poll revealed James Madison as the predicted leader of the East Division. The highly contested race resulted in the Dukes securing four first-place votes out of 14, with App State, Coastal Carolina, Marshall, and Georgia Southern also earning nods.
Reigning Sun Belt champion Troy emerged as the favored team to win the West Division and make a return to the Hercules Tires Sun Belt Football Championship Game. The Trojans obtained 10 first-place votes out of 14, while in-state rival South Alabama received the other four votes.
The 2023 season will commence with Sun Belt Football Media Days on July 25 and 26, featuring the West Division head coaches and student-athletes on Tuesday and the East Division on Wednesday. ESPN+ will broadcast the entire event, with morning and afternoon sessions each day.
2023 SUN BELT CONFERENCE FOOTBALL PRESEASON AWARDS:
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year:
Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina (RS Sr., QB – Indian Trail, N.C.)
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year:
Jason Henderson, Old Dominion (Jr., LB – Dingmans Ferry, Pa.)
2023 SUN BELT CONFERENCE FOOTBALL PRESEASON COACHES POLL:
- James Madison – 78 Points (4)
- App State – 75 Points (4)
- Coastal Carolina – 71 Points (3)
- Marshall – 68 Points (2)
- Georgia Southern – 52 Points (1)
- Georgia State – 31 Points
- Old Dominion – 17 Points
- Troy – 92 Points (10)
- South Alabama – 85 Points (4)
- Louisiana – 64 Points
- Southern Miss – 62 Points
- Texas State – 36 Points
- Arkansas State – 33 Points
- ULM – 20 Points